The Orange County commissioners didn't pick the easy route, that's for sure.Last week they voted to place the question of a land-transfer tax before the county's voters in the May 6 referendum. Aside from the difficulty inherent in asking people to approve new taxes of any kind, the land-transfer tax has recent history going against it. Sixteen counties, including Chatham, placed a land-transfer tax option before their voters last November. In all 16, voters resoundingly rejected it. It's perhaps not coincidental that some powerful lobbies, such as home-builders and real estate, put a lot of money and effort into opposing the measure in those counties. On top of that, a recent poll indicated that a majority of Orange County respondents oppose a land-transfer tax. All of that means the commissioners are facing a mighty stiff headwind on the way to the May referendum. And they're limited in how strenuously they can work against it. Opponents can spend freely in open opposition to the ballot item. The county government can't do the same in support of it.The commissioners can explain why the county needs additional revenue. They can explain how the tax would work and how much revenue it could be expected to generate. The county can spend money to "educate" voters, but it can't spend money to actively advocate. The line between the two may not always be sharp. But clearly the county can't push for the tax with the same vigor that opponents can push against it."The home builders and the Realtors have made it clear that they will pour money into campaigns to defeat transfer taxes," Commissioner Barry Jacobs said. "And since the government's role is to educate, not advocate, it raises the question of where's the counterbalancing force."Without that force, land-transfer taxes went down in flames everywhere they were floated last November. The referendum is less than three months off. If Orange County is going to buck the trend set last November in the rest of the state, there's going to have to be a lot of educating done in that time.